Recently I had one of my new yoga teachers confess how she is stressed and tensed all the time about the Yoga classes she needs to teach. Just within the first 4 months of teaching Yoga. And though I am currently across the globe in India far from my yoga studio in Redmond, WA. I sent her some advice and tips to help her combat this busy season of teaching while I am away. This incident reminded me that I too have been in the very same situation not once but many times before. Falling in and out of it, without control. Feeling helpless, lost and defeated. So I decided to share 5 tips that helped me avoid yoga teacher burnout time and time again.
Let me give you a little bit of a background. I am an immigrant living in the greater Seattle area with my husband. studio. I run two small business – the yoga studio which is my full-time venture. And a Bollywood dance school, BollyWorks on the side as a part time venturI also run this blog, working on a new video channel and do everything on the back and the front end of both studios, teach 200 & 500 hour yoga teacher training, yoga workshops, leading yoga retreats, choreographing and designing Bollywood shows, teaching classes 7 days a week and so on. My schedule is usually packed. I work 10 to 12 hour days 5 sometimes 6 days a week. Depending on the season. Especially when the yoga teacher training time is 7 days with long and tiring days.
I can honestly say that yoga teacher burnout is very real. Almost all yoga teachers find themselves hitting this burnout at some stage in their teaching lifetime. In my early days of teaching yoga, I was embarrassed to admit this. That even though I loved yoga with all I’ve got. Secretly, I was struggling many days. I was overwhelmed with the teaching and business side of it all. Not to mention that I was new to the country with no network – personally or professionally. I was starting from scratch. I did not know how to help myself get out this yoga teacher burnout. And that if I did not, I would be doing the most harm to myself in the long run.
A couple of years ago, something shifted within me. I decided that I had to take control of this burnout. Before I actually burnt out for good. To me, it was a do or die situation, as I am only good at teaching yoga and dance. I did not have anything else to fall back on. So I decided to take steps to change this for good. Thankfully, being Type A really helped in this situation.
I do not have mentors, senior yoga teachers, fellow business owner friends etc…that I can pick up the phone and call. So I looked at the next best thing to do. That was to remove the excess, unnecessary bulls*&^ and go back to the very beginning.
You are burnt out if you feel…
- Tired all the time
- Stressed the moment you think about yoga
- Don’t have fun teaching yoga
- Becomes more of a chore
- Wishing you were doing something else
- feel defeated
- Feel unsuccessful
Top 5 tips to avoid yoga teacher burnout
Change your mental dialogue
I had to start by changing my attitude towards all things yoga. I had gotten into a habit of being miserable, defeated and disappointed. I was always telling myself I was stressed and overwhelmed. So this had to change. Instead, I began replacing the negative with the positive. I started to listening to podcasts and reading more books. Not about yoga, but instead about time management, organization, and entrepreneurship. By surrounding myself with ideas and opportunities to think differently. I began to make a positive shift slowly.
Go back to where it all started.
It is crucial to remind yourself of how your yoga journey started. Why you became a yoga teacher? The love you have for yoga. You need to reconnect to that feeling. And once you do, you need to hold on to it. Many new yoga students who start teaching do not realize how hard it is to make it on your own as a yoga teacher. Especially in the US, where the market is saturated. And supply is more than demand. It is not easy to find a teaching slot, it does not pay very much and is actually more work than I can imagine. Though it appears to be easy and glamorous from the outside. The one thing that saved me was going back to my yoga practice with a vengeance. This does not mean, I did handstands every day. It meant, I did yoga 5 days a week, without skipping a day. Till it became such an ingrained part of my day that I could not part with it. I also started doing other ‘fun’ things like a day at the gym, some fun dance class etc…Just to widen my horizons and let myself be taught as a student even if it was not yoga. Find out something that makes you feel good about yourself and make space for it.
Identify your stressors
Identifying what helps you and what holds you back. This may take some time and some amount of introspection, experimentation and trial and error. For me, I needed to do my yoga practice daily. Nothing made me happier. And if you are a yoga teacher reading this, you know how our self-practice takes a backseat while teaching. I was also unable to keep up with the demands of 2 growing businesses and teach 7 days a week. I needed to get some help. But it took a while before I could afford this luxury as a small business. And I needed to reorganize my day to make the most out of it. If you can figure out what is bothering you the most through a practice of being mindful. You are on your way to success.
Make positive changes.
Once you have identified your triggers. The next thing to do is to change, replace or get rid of them once in for all. So I saved up for an admin assistant, even if it meant I did not go on a fancy holiday the previous year. Life is full of hard choices. I rolled out my mat every single weekday and did not step on it with a feeling of dread and disappointment with myself. But with an attitude of self-acceptance and ahimsa. I listened to podcasts and read books, that helped me grow my businesses more professionally. I stopped thinking about teaching yoga and running the business when it was beyond the office and studio hours. I made it a point to do other things I loved apart from Yoga. What we enjoy will differ, but look closely at your life and find things you enjoy and do more of it when you feel stressed. As long as they are positive.
Set an intention
I used to go to bed stressed and wake up stressed. This proved to be exhausting personally. So I made myself a morning ritual. And starting your day off on the right note is vital. I set an intention for how I want each day to be, before starting work or yoga practice. This could be a simple thought, a slow, deep breath, brief meditation or a post-it on my desk with a message. Find what works for you. As long as you make a conscious and mindful effort. It will help you move forward. You cannot control what comes into your day, but you can definitely control how you react to all that comes your way.
So there you have it. My top 5 tips to avoid yoga teacher burnout. I hope it helps you to get out and ahead. Know that this happens to all yoga teachers and you are not alone. It is just a bump in the long road of teaching yoga. Don’t let burn out get the better of you. Use it to rise above where you are and be a better, stronger and more amazing version of yourself. I wish you the very best